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MLB Free Agency Mailbag: Aaron Judge returns to Yankees, DeGrom signs with Rangers, & More!

It’s been a wild MLB offseason thus far from the New York Yankees signing the reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge to a historic contract, Jacob deGrom spurning the New York Mets to join the Texas Rangers, and Justin Verlander joining the Mets after the departure of deGrom, just to name a few. Let’s get right into some of the most notable signings in what has been a hectic winter offseason.

Yankees resign Judge to a massive 9yr/$360 million

In what was the most anticipated signing amongst MLB free agents offseason was the reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge who bet big on himself by not resigning an extension with the Yankees last offseason and boy did it pay off! It was announced on Wednesday that the reigning home run king agreed to a 9yr/$360 million deal to return to the New York Yankees, which is $150 million more than what the team originally offered him last season… Talk about betting on yourself and winning!

Judge, 32, decided to remain loyal to the only team he calls home, the Yankees, despite some rumors of him potentially going to the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres. Judge has California ties from being raised in the Sacramento area which is located just 100 miles from San Francisco which would make such a potential deal with one of those franchises all the more enticing. Still, he chose to stay with the Yankees as he tried to continue to pursue his goal of bringing a title back to New York.

This new deal makes Judge the highest-paid player ($40 million) for any position player in MLB history, shattering Mike Trout’s $36 million per year with the Los Angeles Angels that he signed in 2019. Judge bargained and won, he turned down a seven-year $213.5 million deal at the end of spring training last season that had many scratching their heads and wondering if this could be his last season in the pinstripes.

Judge was named the AL MVP with a batting average of .311 with 133 runs and 131 RBIs. Yankees fans can now exhale knowing the face of their franchise will be a Yankee until he retires and will continue to bring excitement for years to come.

Do the Phillies have a new dynamic duo in Harper and Turner?

The Philadelphia Phillies cashed in big in free agency Monday with the signing of the 2019 World Series Champion and the reigning NL shortstop silver slugger winner in Trea Turner. Turner left the Dodgers who finished with the best overall record in the MLB this past season to join the World Series runner-up team in the Phillies on an 11-year, $300 million deal.

This addition gives the Phillies the best power-speed player alongside two-time NL MVP and his former Washington Nationals teammate, Bryce Harper, as well as one of the highest payrolls in the league. He’ll also join All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, slugger Kyle Schwarber and first baseman Rhys Hoskins.

Turner’s deal includes a no-trade clause and will keep him in Philadelphia until the 2033 season while making him the 10th player to receive a $300 million contract in MLB history. He becomes the fourth shortstop to reach such a lofty deal, joining New York Mets’ Francisco Lindor, the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr., and the Texas Rangers Corey Seager.

Turner’s zestful play was on full display this season as he hit .298/.343/.466 with 21 home runs and 27 stolen bases for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who acquired him at the 2021 trade deadline. Turner, 29, has received MVP votes each of the last three seasons and will be receiving $27.3 million a year in what has been an aggressive free-agent pursuit for the Phillies that also includes signing pitcher Taijuan Walker from the Mets to a four-year. $72 million deal, and Matthew Strahm from the Boston Red Sox to a two-year, $15 million deal.

The Phillies have upgraded their bullpen as they will need it due to Harper being expected to miss the first half of the season after having Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The addition of Turner, an All-MLB first-team selection should make the early absence of Harper more salvageable for the reigning NL Champions.

Texas Rangers snag two-time CY Young winner deGrom from Mets

The Texas Rangers also made a big splash this offseason in signing right-handed pitcher Jacob deGrom to a five-year, $185 million deal on Dec.2. The Mets reportedly offered the two-time Cy Young award winner a $40 million annual salary to stay for the next three seasons, but he declined.

The Rangers executive vice president and general manager Chris Young was ecstatic by the deGrom signing by stating: “We are thrilled that Jacob deGrom has decided to become a Texas Ranger, over a number of seasons, Jacob has been a standout major-league pitcher, and he gives us a dominant performer at the top of our rotation.”

DeGrom’s ability as a pitcher is undeniable, striking out 30.8% of the batters faced in his career, the highest lifetime strikeout percentage by any pitcher in major-league history who has pitched at least 1,000 innings. His average of 10.91 strikeouts per nine innings trails only Chris Sale (11.07) among those who have pitched at least 1,300 innings in their career.

Despite being one of the best pitchers the game has ever seen, deGrom’s durability makes this contract for the Rangers a risky one as the pitcher only started 11 games for the Mets last season, and going 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA while also starting only 38 games over the last three seasons. He missed four months of the season with a stress fracture in his right scapula but soon showed his brilliance after that by leading the majors with 102 strikeouts after his return.

During his introduction Thursday, deGrom stated why he ended up signing with the Rangers when he stated: "The Rangers did a great job with constant communication and making me feel like they really wanted me here, the vision was the same: build something great, and win year in and year out."

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings in his career. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026, and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

Mets sign two-time World Series champion Justin Verlander

While the departure of deGrom was a substantial loss, the Mets made sure to make up for that by signing two-time World Series champion Justin Verlander to a two-year, $86.66 million deal. The deal will have a value of $43.33 annually as the pitcher approaches 40 years of age.

Verlander’s deal will include a third-year option for 2025 that is for $35 million. Verlander, 39, is coming off leading the Houston Astros to their second World Series title and is coming off a unanimous Cy Young award selection, the third of his illustrious career.

Verlander will be joining a former teammate of his and another three-time Cy Young award winner, Max Scherzer, as they played together as members of the Detroit Tigers from 2010 to 2014. Verlander made 28 starts this season and went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA and 185 strikeouts last season while making his ninth All-Star game.

Can Verlander keep up his brilliant dominance at such an advanced age? The Mets will find out come spring of 2023.

San Diego Padres sign Xander Bogaerts to 11-year, $280 million deal

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts signed an 11-year contract with the San Diego Padres Wednesday, spurning the Boston Red Sox who seem to be plummeting in talent at this point, and was the team Bogaerts called home for a decade

The two-time World Series champion and four-time All-Star will make $280 million over the course of the deal, sources confirmed to ESPN. Padres general manager A.J. Preller expressed his enthrallment with the Bogaerts signing stating: "We are very excited to add Xander to the San Diego Padres, his consistency and top-level production places him among the best players in our game. Xander's makeup and championship pedigree are a strong fit for our team as we look to achieve our goal of bringing a World Series Championship to San Diego."

Adding Bogaerts to a team that already consists of Juan Soto, whom they acquired from a trade with the Washington Nationals last season, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis Jr. last season makes them one of the deepest, most talented rosters in all of baseball.

Bogaerts lamented to his during his introductory press conference as a member of the Padres: "The roster is so stacked, top to bottom, it's unbelievable, when they beat the Dodgers here, seeing how amped up the fans were during the playoffs, it was fun to watch on TV."

The Padres were eliminated by the 101-win New York Mets in the wild-card round last season before beating the 111-win National League West rival Los Angeles Dodgers which shocked many around the sports world. They ended up losing in the NL Championship Series to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.

Bogaert's hitting averages were .307/.377/.456 with 15 home runs and 73 RBIs in 150 games last season.

Boston Red Sox sign Japanese star outfielder Masataka Yoshida

To make up for the loss of the departure of Bogaerts, the Red Sox signed Japanese star outfielder Masataka Yoshida to a five-year, $90 million contract Wednesday. Yoshida had batting averages of .335/.447/.561 with 21 home runs, 80 walks, and just 41 strikeouts in 508 plate appearances this year as a member of the Orix Buffaloes, the reigning Japan Series champions.

Yoshida spent seven seasons as a member of the Buffaloes, distinguishing himself as one of the best in Japan with batting averages of .326/.419/.538 with just 307 strikeouts in 3,251 plate appearances.

It has been a whirlwind of a winter offseason thus far for Major League Baseball with notable free agents still on market such as former World Series champion and Golden Glove award recipient Carlos Correa still on the market. There’s been already over $2 billion spent by franchises in the free agency market and it will only continue to increase as the winter continues.


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